Drama has exploded at the World Cup with FIFA outlawing “One Love” armbands at the 11th hour.
Hours after England captain Harry Kane and several other national captains declared they would defy any potential ban on the rainbow armbands, FIFA has finally dropped the hammer with sanctions that effectively ban the items outright.
European teams launched the “OneLove” initiative in response to the treatment of LGBTQ communities in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. At least seven teams had declared intent for their captain to wear the item at the World Cup.
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FIFA on Sunday AEDT proposed a series of alternative armbands featuring different social campaigns in response to the plans from the rogue European teams.
Then it emerged there were threats of sporting sanctions, including bookings/yellow cards, for players who wore the armbands.
On Monday night AEDT a joint statement from England, Wales and the other nations confirmed they had withdrawn their plan.
Harry Kane was to be the first case. Photo: Frank Augstein / AFP and Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.Source: Supplied
“We’ve had meetings this morning with FIFA and there are discussions carrying on,” FA CEO Mark Bullingham told the BBC.
“We’re very keen to wear the armband, we want to do it, but obviously we would need to consider the implications.
“Normally in this kind of situation there would be a fine, and we’ve said we’d be happy to pay that … because we think it’s important to show our support for inclusion.
“If this sporting sanction threat is real then we need to look at that, we need to step back and work out if there’s another way we can show our values.”
In the statement from the seven nations a stronger message was sent.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband,” it read.
“However we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented.”
The countries were widely pilloried for giving up the attempted protest once any sort of real punishment was on the cards.
“The OneLove armband was a pretty empty gesture anyway, but now all of these nations have completely shat the bed at the first sign of inconvenience,” Liverpool-based writer Daniel Austin said.
“Protest isn’t protest if it’s without risk. You either really want to make a stand for people who need it, or you don’t. Cowards.”
The Athletic’s Jack Pitt-Brooke added: “One of the things that is so dispiriting about all this is that the One Love armband felt like it was designed specifically so that it would be permitted. The blandness and non-specificity of it was the whole point. And they’ve still ultimately decided against wearing it.”
FIFA said in a statement its proposed armbands would promote social messages, including “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.
The move placed football’s world governing body on a collision course with teams such as Germany, whose captain Manuel Neuer had said he would still wear a “OneLove” armband to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Other European nations are wearing (the armband) and it is good we are doing it together,” Neuer said on Saturday.
Denmark’s Christian Eriksen said his country’s captain Simon Kjaer would be wearing the rainbow armband too.
“We as a country are wearing it, our captain will be wearing the OneLove armband,” Eriksen said.
“What the consequences will be I don’t know, but we’ll see.”
The Denmark team has faded out its own emblem as a form of protest. Source: https://www.footyheadlines.com/Source: SuppliedEngland are hoping to go all the way. Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The armband dispute flared two months ago and does not seem even close to being resolved.
Kane was set to be the guinea pig subject as the first European captain to wear the armband at the World Cup when England takes on Iran from 12am Tuesday AEDT.
“I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it,” Kane said on Sunday in Doha.
Welsh coach Rob Page also confirmed superstar Gareth Bale was to wear a rainbow armband.
Germany has been among the most vocal nation in committing to wearing the “One Love” armband.
“We will stay with the European position,” German soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf said this week.
“FIFA came up with their own armband idea just two days ago. That was not acceptable for us.”
Adelaide United star Josh Cavallo on Monday morning also spoke out against the hosting of the tournament in Qatar.
Cavallo, the first active male professional footballer to publicly announce he is gay, said World Cup leaders have attacked the LGBTQ+ community.
The Socceroos make their World Cup debut in Wednesday morning’s opener against France having also made a powerful protest against the host nation and its record of human rights abuses.